Have you heard of The Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers?
I happened across this series in a used bookshop. Small but thick volumes in a bluish gray cover. They were side-by-side so at first I thought they were the same book. I’m always looking for an excuse to collect more books and I’m always looking for books written by women. Since this series features women writers, and long forgotten black women writers at that, I was all over it.
Originally published in the late 1980’s, there are 49 books in the series and most are still available from Oxford Press. The information on the back of both of the books that I have reads: “The Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers series, under the general editorship of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has rescued the voice of an entire segment of the African-American literary tradition by offering volumes of compelling and rare works of fiction, poetry, autobiography, biography, essay, and journals, written by nineteenth-century black women.”
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture located in New York contains art, manuscript, rare book, and digital media collections.
In my internet search to find out more about The Schomburg I came across Digital Schomburg hosted by the New York Public Library.
This list shows that works by Phillis Wheately, Harriet Jacobs, Sojourner Truth, and Ida B. Wells have been published in the series. What’s even more exciting will be the discovery of writers that are unknown to me and probably much of the reading world.
Other series that have caught my eye
Beacon also published a Black Women Writers series (I have a few of these). I own their reprint of Octavia Butler’s Kindred and have read Joanna Russ’ Female Man reprinted in their Bluestreak series which features women of all colors.